7 Ways To Improve Staff Retention in Recruitment

By Vanessa Ramkissoon

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It’s no secret that the U.K. recruitment industry has an exceptionally low staff retention rate. In fact, the average U.K. employee turnover rate is 15%  a year, whereas the recruitment industry turnover rate is reported to be as high as 43%!

The recruitment industry churns out staff at an alarming rate and there are many different reasons for this. But today we want to focus on how you can improve your staff retention rate by hiring recruitment trainees the right way.

So often the recruitment industry sees new consultants quit within their first year. For some reason, the world of recruitment does not live up to the rookies' expectations.

Why is this?

We’ve compiled a list of common reasons why trainee consultants tend to leave recruitment in their first year which, for the sake of this post, we’ll call Dropout Reasons:

  • They have unrealistic commission expectations
  • There’s too much rejection involved
  • The industry is too competitive
  • The recruitment process is too slow
  • There’s too much pressure
  • They don’t like working to targets
  • There’s too much ‘out of hours’ work required
  • They expected the job to be more about helping people than selling to people

Although these are all valid reasons for deciding against the recruitment industry, it is possible to identify whether or not an employee is likely to be able to withstand the Dropout Reasons prior to hiring them.

To get the best hires, make sure you implement all of the following vetting techniques in your recruitment process. When followed carefully, these steps will address all of the Dropout Reasons helping you to find those rare diamonds in the rough. 


1. Hire competitive personalities

Recruitment is not easy and is not an instant sale. It takes perseverance and sheer hard work to reap the rewards. That’s why you need to attract highly competitive consultants who are used to bouncing back after a loss. 

People that play competitive sports or were brought up around a lot of sports generally tend to come with the right levels of competitiveness and discipline built into them to withstand the targets and challenges of recruitment.

Competitive people also love to celebrate their victories and you’ll find that even just the smell of victory is a huge motivating factor for pushing consultants through their tougher periods. 


2. Ask them what their financial expectations are

What’s the most common reason people give for wanting to get into recruitment?

The money.

When it comes to hiring trainee recruiters, many hiring managers are keen to highlight the earning potential as a perk of the job. Whilst it’s important to talk about this, it’s just as important to be realistic and transparent about the length of time it normally takes for trainee consultants to start earning commission in your company. 

New consultants can find it takes as long as 6 months (sometimes longer) to start earning commission. This can cause a lot of frustration, self-doubt and disappointment if the consultant hasn’t been mentally prepared for this journey.

Therefore, it’s vital that you firstly ask the candidate what their expectations are for earning commission. Depending on their answer, you may need to bring them back to reality. You want to hire consultants that have realistic expectations otherwise they may find themselves feeling very disappointed very early on! 


3. Schedule a test call at the end of the first interview

You want to test your candidate’s basic ability to follow a simple instruction and their level of commitment. At the end of the first interview, arrange for a time and date for the candidate to call you to obtain feedback on their interview.

If they miss the deadline and fail to provide a reasonable excuse, this should be seen up as a huge red flag!

If the candidate can’t return a call for their own job interview on time, then you need to question whether or not they're taking the job seriously.


4. Minimum two-stage interview process

Sometimes there can be a misconception that trainee roles only require a one stage interview process. But if you want to hire talent that lasts, it is vital that you create a minimum two-stage interview process (three including the telephone interview). This will test your candidate’s commitment to the role, and also allows you to create a tiered interview process whereby the screening gets slightly tougher with each stage. 

For example, you wouldn’t want to run a trial shift for those on their first interview because it may become clear to you that this candidate isn’t right for the role. The trial shift should come into play later down the line once they’ve passed the initial stages.

Having a two-stage process also gives you a chance to gain a more well-rounded opinion of the candidate.

Did they turn up on time for both interviews?

Was the information they gave in the second interview consistent with the information given in the first?

Maybe their nerves got the better of them in the first interview but you really got to see their personality come to life in the second.

There is so much value gained in having a two-stage interview. 

Tip: two interviewers should be present at both stages but try to use a different second interviewer in the second interview! 


5. Conduct psychometric testing

In recent years, psychometric tests have become a very popular tool used by thousands of employers across several industries. Companies such as Microsoft, J.P. Morgan & Hewlett Packard, among others, all incorporate psychometric tests into their hiring process.

These tests are a fantastic way of analysing the candidate's suitability to recruitment. The tests have the ability to categorise personality traits, showing you which industry the candidate is best suited to. For example, a typical sales profile will have a high level of influence and dominance, but will score lower on compliance and steadiness. Whereas in administrative roles you would tend to look for people with a strong tendency towards compliance and steadiness, but low levels of influence and dominance.

It’s best to use this test if you are going to invite your candidate into a second interview. If there are any worrying areas in the results, you have the opportunity to address and further assess these areas in the second interview.


6. Introduce a trial shift

You absolutely need to get your second stage applicants on the phones making sales calls. This step doesn’t need to be overcomplicated. Simply give the candidate a long list of numbers to call through for 1 hour, and ask them to see what they can find out.

Don’t overprep them!

In fact, the less instruction you can give them the better. What you’re looking to do here is assess their boldness, and their willingness to put themselves out of their comfort zones and improvise. 

You’ll also be able to put their people skills to the test:

How engaging are they? Do they have the ability to open up the conversation? 

You want them to show off their natural sales flare so, the less rules you can give them, the better.

Not only will this exercise give you a chance to assess the candidate, but it will also let the candidate experience one of the most challenging parts of the job. If they don’t enjoy the trial shift, then you can rest assured they won’t enjoy recruitment! 


7. Implement a sales pitch

It’s important to assess as many practical skills as possible during the interview process. Of course, you need to go through the motions of the simple question-answer interview format, but implementing practical tests will display a totally different side to your candidate.

During the final interview, give your candidate 20 minutes to prepare a compelling 5-minute sales pitch in which they must try to convince you to purchase a product or service (try not to pick anything too complicated as you don’t want the candidate to get too bogged down with the technicalities). 

After the presentation, you will challenge your candidate with tough questions that will force them to think on their feet. This is a way to showcase the candidate’s level of influence and composure - two ingredients that make for a strong recruitment consultant! You want to see the candidate speak with confidence and personality!



Creating the best recruitment consultants begins with creating a solid recruitment strategy.

A lot of companies will follow this cycle; opt for a quick hiring process for trainees, make poor hires in high volumes, experience a high turnover rate, and use this as a means of justifying a short interview process. And the cycle continues.

It is vital that you spend quality time to make quality hires. You may make fewer hires as a result of having a more rigorous process, but the time you invest in picking the right people will pay off in the long run.

Resist the temptation to just hire and see what sticks. You want to bring people in that want to be there, that understand the journey ahead, and that you know will be worth your time and resources. 

About the Author: is a freelance recruitment content and copywriter. Having come from a recruitment operations background, Vanessa specialises in writing SEO optimised blogs and sales copy for recruitment-related businesses such as job boards, consultancies & recruitment software providers.


To learn more about Vanessa and her content writing services, visit her here: 

Website: www.rec-writer.com 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vanessa-ramkissoon-5a8499168/ 

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